CS updates Swedish leaders on HK potential
The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, today (May 14) had a second full round of meetings with leading Swedish politicians and business people, updating them on the developments in Hong Kong since his previous visit to Stockholm five years ago.
They included the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Laila Freivalds, the Minister for Communications and Regional Policy, Ms Ulrica Messing, and the Lord Mayor and Chairman of the Stockholm City Council, Mr Barry Andersson.
He and Ms Messing attended the signing of a memorandum of understanding on design co-operation between the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation and the Hong Kong Design Centre. This sets out a general framework for co-operation in the field of design and the Chairman of the HKDC's Board of Governors, Mr Victor Lo, signed on behalf of Hong Kong.
Mr Tsang addressed the Swedish Institute of International Affairs last night (HK time), and said that, almost seven years after reunification, the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems' was being implemented faithfully by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and its national leaders.
"The ongoing debate in Hong Kong is indicative of its free spirit," he said. In a sophisticated and advanced city like Hong Kong, with its boisterous and outspoken population - it was only natural that people would want greater say in how they were governed. Development had to take place under the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution.
Just before leaving for this visit, the Task Force on Constitutional Development, which he chaired, released its report on ways in which we might work within the parameters of the Basic Law and the NPCSC's decisions with a view to moving closer to the ultimate goal of universal suffrage as laid down in the Basic Law.
"What we need and we are seeking views from the community is a solution that will stand the test of time, will benefit the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and complies with the Basic Law and the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee," he said.
"Whatever changes we decide on the political front, we will not undermine the basic tenets that underpin our society. Hong Kong remains true to the values and institutions that buttress our development as a separate social, economic and political system from the Mainland; a free society under the rule of law and an open, pluralistic, tolerant and outward-looking
Mr Tsang said there were many other aspects to 'One Country, Two Systems' equally as important as political development to underpin Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy.
"As one of the world's most open and externally-oriented economies, we take our international responsibilities extremely seriously," he said. "We gladly play our part as a responsible global citizen."
He said Hong Kong remained the location of choice for the regional operations of more than 3,200 international companies. More than 500,000 expatriates work and live in Hong Kong. All of this highlighted Hong Kong's positioning as Asia's world city - a progressive, free and stable society, a city of opportunity and a city of quality.
Events over the past seven years had brought one of those qualities into sharper focus - the resilience and determination of Hong Kong people, who had always been our greatest asset.
Mr Tsang told his audience that despite the economic setback of SARS last year, the economy had performed quite well - once again illustrating Hong Kong's resilience and the speed at which recovery could happen when institutional software was in place that rewarded enterprise and gave the market as much room as possible to prosper.
"Our economy grew by 3.3% last year, and we are forecasting growth of 6% this year," he said. "As you might expect, I remain very positive about our medium and long-term development. There are a number of reasons."
A major one was that Hong Kong would continue to benefit greatly from China's opening up and robust growth under the rules and discipline of the World Trade Organisation. This process would accelerate as China's market became more open and transparent.
Another reason was the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong and the Mainland (CEPA), covering trade in goods, trade in services and trade and investment facilitation and providing a new platform for companies to enter the Mainland market earlier than China's WTO timetable.
Another reason for his confidence, and an area that will benefit greatly from CEPA, was closer economic co-operation with adjoining Guangdong province, particularly the Pearl River Delta.
Ends/Friday, May 14, 2004